| By John Antonik for MSNsportsNET.com|
January 10, 2006
MORGANTOWN, W.Va. – Two teams with long winning streaks will hook up Wednesday night when No. 16-rated West Virginia takes on Georgetown Wednesday night at the WVU Coliseum.
The Mountaineers (10-3, 2-0) have won eight straight after dropping three in a row to Texas, Kentucky and LSU in late November. Most recently, West Virginia knocked No. 3 Villanova from the ranks of the undefeated last Sunday, overcoming a 15-point second-half deficit to defeat the Wildcats 91-87.
In that game Joe Herber scored a career-high 23 points and Kevin Pittsnogle added 22, including some key shots down the stretch to help West Virginia register its biggest win against a ranked team on the road in school history.
West Virginia forced 22 Villanova turnovers and overcame a torrid shooting effort from the Wildcats to pull off its second win over a Top 10-ranked team this season.
Pittsnogle ranks third in the conference in scoring averaging 20.0 points per game while Mike Gansey is tied for fifth (19.0 ppg.). Herber’s 23 at Villanova boosted his season average to 10.2 points per game.
Georgetown, by comparison, has played under the radar for most of the season having won its last seven games in a row. The Hoyas are 10-2 under second-year coach John Thompson, III, losing to just Vanderbilt at home on Nov. 26, and on the road at No. 7 Illinois on Dec. 8. Georgetown is 2-0 in league play with wins over Providence and St. John’s.
“Why they’re not getting votes for the Top 25 I have no idea, said West Virginia coach John Beilein. “They’re a good team.”
The Hoyas have one of the biggest front lines in college basketball in 7-foot-2-inch sophomore center Roy Hibbert, and 6-9 wings Jeff Green and Brandon Bowman.
Hibbert is leading a well-balanced Georgetown offense with an average of 12.6 points per game. Hibbert is shooting 61.9 percent from the floor and 79.7 percent from the free throw line.
“Hibbert was not a major factor last year and now he’s their leading scorer,” said Beilein.
Senior Brandon Bowman flirted with the idea of turning pro after last year before returning to Georgetown for his final season in 2006. Bowman is averaging 11.6 points per game and is shooting nearly 50 percent from the floor. Last year he led the Hoyas in scoring with an average of 15.1 points per game.
Green, the national freshman of the year by Basketball Times in 2005, is averaging 9.3 points and 6.2 rebounds per game. The sophomore leads the team with 41 assists.
“Green is a tremendous player that can pass,” Beilein said. “He’s a five-man who acts like a two.”
In the backcourt Thompson is expected to start 6-foot-2-inch Ashanti Cook and 6-1 Jonathan Wallace. Cook and Wallace have combined to average more than 18 points per game.
“Their guards are so intelligent. They understand how to play,” said Beilein.
Georgetown’s top reserve off the bench is 6-7 senior forward Darrell Owens, who averages 9.5 points and is shooting 54.4 percent.
Georgetown is shooting 49.3 percent overall and has a 180-132 assist-to-turnover ratio. The Hoyas are out-scoring their opponents by more than 12 points per game.
“(WVU assistant) Mike Maker, who coached against Princeton for years … he and I are in awe watching them,” said Beilein. “We’ll both learn from this game because we play again in another month.”
The Mountaineers make a return trip to Georgetown on Feb. 12.
Wednesday night’s game in Morgantown will tip off at 7 pm and will be televised locally by ESPN Plus (John Sanders and Charles Davis). Stations in West Virginia carrying the game include WCHS (Charleston), WOAY (Oak Hill), WVFX (Clarksburg), WVTX (Wheeling), WJAL (Chambersburg, Pa.) and ESPN Full Court.
Tuesday, January 10, 2006